“In the Shrimad-Bhagavatam, real devotional liberation is defined as the reinstatement of the living entity in his own identity, his own constitutional position. The constitutional position is already explained: every living entity is the part and parcel fragmental portion of the Supreme Lord. Therefore his constitutional position is to serve. After liberation, this service is never stopped. Actual liberation is getting free from misconceptions of life.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 18.55 Purport)
The difference between lust and true love is the difference between kama and bhakti. Bhakti also goes by terms such as sneha and prema. That sentiment which we mistake for love is actually lust, but the pure form is loving devotion without requiring reciprocation. Bhagavad-bhakti is the full description, as pure devotion can only be directed at the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
The embodiment of pure bhakti is Shrimati Radharani. She is the pleasure potency of the Divine. Like one side to a coin, she is the feminine face of the original potency. Radha and Krishna appear to be two, but they are one in the same interest. On the occasion of Radhashtami, which is the anniversary of Radharani’s appearance in this world, we contemplate how any person can offer love in a pure manner.
Would not the lover eventually grow tired? Who wants to keep on giving? Should there not be an expectation of reciprocation? How is it possible for the love to continue, otherwise? Is it not more appropriately deemed foolishness or madness?
We could ask the same questions of the sun. It produces heat and light, at a steady pace. We both rely upon and take advantage of the sun. We carve out vacation time from the place of business during the summer months precisely because we expect generally good weather conditions. We expect the same to continue, in the way that it has for a hundred years based on documented evidence.
We could ask the same question of the mother. They love their child, from beginning to end. They provide complete protection in the early years. Eating. Sleeping. Changing clothes. Walking. Talking. Reading. The child depends completely on the mother, but the caretaker asks for nothing in return. The child may grow up to one day forget everything their parents offered them, but the mother will continue to love.
Shrimati Radharani is one of the cowherd girls of Vrindavana. The gopis are known for their pure devotion to Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. They will give up everything to see to the happiness of the one who is known as Shyamasundara. They do not mind risking sin or damage to personal reputation; as long as there is satisfaction for Krishna.
“The perfection of the rasa dance was considered to be complete due to Radharani’s presence, and in Her absence Krishna considered the dance to be disrupted. Therefore He left the arena to search Her out. When He could not find Radharani after wandering in several places, He became very distressed. Thus it is understood that Krishna could not enjoy His pleasure potency even in the midst of all the gopis. But in the presence of Radharani He was satisfied.” (Teachings of Lord Chaitanya, Ch 30)
Radha is like the chief of the gopis. She completes the experience, in the loving interaction with the all-attractive one. We are not meant to imitate but to follow in her footsteps. Love purely. Live life in a way that aligns with dharma.
अनयाराधितो नूनं भगवान् हरिरीश्वर: ।
यन्नो विहाय गोविन्द: प्रीतो यामनयद् रह: ॥
bhagavān harir īśvaraḥ
yan no vihāya govindaḥ
prīto yām anayad rahaḥ
“Truly the Personality of Godhead has been worshiped by Her. Therefore Lord Govinda, being pleased, has brought Her to a lonely spot, leaving us all behind.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.30.28)
As Radharani is always giving pleasure to Krishna, always serving, so we are meant for the same type of existence. This is our constitutional position, currently manifesting in a perverted way in the material world. The pure version of that service, bhakti, continues even after liberation. The union of Radha and Krishna is eternal, and so the potential is there for every conditioned soul to be liberated to the point of always showing true love, in staying with the Supreme Lord.
Actually an illusion to chase,
Can liberation have a face?
Radharani just see,
How steady to be.
Such that Krishna by her side,
Together to always reside.
Pleasure potency of highest standard set,
Showing how mission of life is met.